Luno CEO Steps Aside as COO Takes Over Amid Turmoil in Crypto Market

The move comes as Luno's parent company, DCG, struggles to stay afloat in the crypto market. Coindesk, the DCG-owned crypto news outlet, has also reportedly hired an investment bank to explore a potential sale.

Leading South African crypto exchange, Luno, says the CEO is stepping aside and handing the reins to its head of operations. James Lanigan, Luno’s Chief Operating Officer, will take over as the new CEO, while Marcus Swanepoel, the current CEO, will become executive chairman.

This move comes as Luno’s parent company, Digital Currency Group (DCG), a crypto-focused venture capital firm, continues to grapple with turmoil in the crypto market. Luno recently laid off 35% of its global workforce citing market turbulence as the reason.

Founded in 2013 by South African former banker, Marcus Swanepoel, Luno aimed to bring crypto to the masses. Swanepoel has been CEO for 10 years and will now focus on guiding strategy and broadening Luno’s investor base in his new role as executive chairman.

Swanepoel said:

“Co-founding and serving as the CEO of Luno for the past ten years has been the greatest honour of my career and I’m excited for our next chapter as we continue to put the power of crypto in everyone’s hands.

The opportunity for crypto is bigger and brighter than ever, and James is a seasoned operator and an outstanding leader with a track record of success across all aspects of running a truly global fintech business. I have the utmost confidence that James will continue to deepen our trust with customers and key stakeholders alike, driving both Luno’s business and the industry forward.”

Luno has reportedly hired investment banking firm, Canaccord Genuity Group, to help it raise new investment from outside investors. This marks the first time the company is opening up to new investors since being acquired by DCG in 2020. The company intends to raise money from investors other than DCG to help it expand internationally, gain market share, and prepare for an eventual listing, according to the press release.

DCG, Luno’s parent company, has been dealing with the ongoing fallout from last year’s plunge in token prices and the collapse of FTX whose failure in November 2022 sparked a series of bankruptcies in the industry.

Within DCG’s portfolio of crypto holdings, digital currency lender, Genesis, filed for bankruptcy protection owing creditors at least $3 billion, while Grayscale, the largest crypto asset management firm, faces questions over its exposure to FTX and the widening discount its bitcoin investment trust trades at relative to the underlying asset.

CoinDesk, the DCG-owned crypto news outlet, has also hired an investment bank called Lazard to explore a potential sale, reports indicate.

A DCG spokesperson insisted Swanepoel’s job move was unrelated to the difficulties faced by Luno’s parent company and had been in the works for 12 months. The spokesperson added that transitioning from CEO to executive chairman is a ‘common path for founder CEOs.’

Since its founding in 2013, Luno is one of the leading crypto exchanges in Africa with over 11 million users in over 40 countries.




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